Hours after a group of prominent Islamic scholars said the country's coup leaders are open to talks to resolve their disagreements with West Africa's regional bloc, the military of Niger said it was going to prosecute ousted President Mohamed Bazoum for treason.
The military of Niger accused Bazoum of "high treason" and "undermining the internal and external security" of the nation in a statement read out on national television late on Sunday.
One of the world's poorest countries cannot receive imports because ECOWAS has cut off banking transactions, electrical supplies, and closed borders with landlocked Niger.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from Katsina on Nigeria’s border with Niger, said the charges against Bazoum were likely to “increase tensions between the military in Niger and the international community”.
“This statement is an indication the military isn’t about to let Bazoum go. The charges they’ve announced could result in very serious repercussions for Bazoum,” Idris said.
Since the coup on July 26, Bazoum, 63, and his family have been kept at the president's official mansion in Niamey, where there is growing concern about their living conditions.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has threatened military operations in Niger if the civilian government is not restored and demanded the reinstatement of Bazoum.
However, the West African bloc has stated it is still committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the issue and has approved the deployment of a "standby force to restore constitutional order" in Niger.
Colonel Major Amadou Abdramane, the military's spokesman for Niger, said in a statement on Sunday that there was no need to worry about Bazoum's health because he had already seen a doctor the day before.
“After this visit, the doctor raised no problems regarding the state of health of the deposed president and members of his family,” he said.
Moving ahead to criticize the ECOWAS sanctions against Niger, Abdramane claimed that the "illegal, inhumane, and humiliating" actions were making it impossible for people to acquire energy, food, and medicine.